Amazon’s KDP Select (aka Lending Library) and How This is Making Me Evaluate In What Order to Publish My Books

I don’t know how many of you are aware of the latest move by Amazon to entice self-published authors to go exclusively with them.  I hesitated to even make a blog post on it since this blog isn’t dedicated to topics of what is happening in the world of self-published authors, but I feel I have to address this since it changes some dynamics for how I am going to have to publish my books.

For a quick rundown, on Thursday Amazon offered all self-published authors the option to be a part of their KDP Select program.  So if you are a Prime memeber (and yes, I happen to be one), you can borrow any book in their KDP Select program without paying for it.  Now, here’s the catch.  You can only borrow one book a month.  As a customer, this doesn’t interest for me.  I have a ton of books in my TBR pile so it’s like, “Who cares?”

Now, as an author, I am opposed to this program, and I’ll be honest about why.  If I were to enter this program, I would be forced to do a couple of things I’m not willing to do:

1.  I’d have to make the book exclusive to Amazon for 90 days.  For example, if I entered Isaac’s Decision into KDP Select, I couldn’t put it up anywhere else for 90 days.  Most of you who read my books are B&N or iPad users. 

2.  I wouldn’t be allowed to do any story excerpts for that book on my blog.  And I happen to enjoy doing story excerpts.

3.  I also could not run a contest until the 90 day period is up and I can publish the book everywhere else.  I prefer to run contests when the book is new.  

But there are other implications that worry me, and this is the more personal side of the issue from an author’s standpoint. 

This has the potential to hurt places other booksellers.  A lot of authors are opting into KDP Select.  I was reading through some sites last night, and I was surprised by how many authors are taking their books off of Smashwords, B&N, Apple, etc in order to put their books exclusively on Amazon.  The authors figure they aren’t selling much on other sites, so why bother?  In turn, Amazon is improving their sales ranking to make those books more visible.  A borrowed book counts as a sale.  What this means is that authors who don’t put their books into this program will see a drop in sales ranking which leads to less sales. 

I’m not goint to worry about a drop in sales.  The reason I write is because I feel led by God to write the stories I do.  Whether I make money or not has little impact on writing.  What money enables me to do is write more books.  If I have to go outside the home to work to help pay the bills, I will.  That would mean the time I have available to write would be less because the time I could be at a job outside the house is time I spend writing.  So maybe instead of publishing six books in a year, I would publish maybe one or two.  Either way, I’d keep writing.   It’s really up to God on how things play out.  If He wants me to spend more time writing, He’ll make a way.  Up to now, I’ve been very blessed to be able to write and publish as much as I have been. 

My husband retires from the military in February, so the certainty of a paycheck won’t be what it has been up to now.  So several things both from Amazon and in my personal life could change the way I currently do things.  I’ve spent the past two years getting things established so that I have better chances of writing and publishing those six books in a year that I want to do.  But to say anything is a sure thing in this life is risky.  Past success doesn’t promise future success.  So I’m prepared for whatever I have to do.

Smashwords is taking a hit right now from all of this.  I don’t know how things will play out, but considering how many authors are taking their books off of Smashwords, this is going to have implications.  I see quite a few authors saying that it’s them first and they’ll do whatever will give them the most money–and they see Amazon as being their best chance of making that money.  Don’t get me wrong.  I think authors should be paid for their work.  Anyone who works deserves to be paid.  However, I don’t particularly care for the dog-eat-dog mentality I’m seeing on some forums out there.

Now, this is what this means for the order I’ll publish books in the future.

So I want to support Smashwords and through Smashwords, I will do my part to support places like B&N, Apple, etc.  It’s because of Smashwords, I even got into B&N, Kobo, Sony, Diesel and Apple to begin with.  I was with Smashwords before PubIt came along. 

So again, I’m going to have to eat my words about Isaac’s Decision.  As much as I want to publish it at the end of this month, I’m going to wait.  I understand it’s a month from the time I publish on Smashwords to when it goes up on B&N.  So here’s what I’m going to do (and I hope this can be a compromise that will make most people happy):

I will publish Isaac’s Decision on Smashwords around January 1.  Then when Isaac’s Decision is up on B&N, I will publish it on Amazon.  So people who have Nooks won’t have to wait while people with Kindles are already reading it.  I don’t think it’s fair the Nook readers had to wait like they did for Shotgun Groom.  So this is how I’m going to balance that out.

I really want to use Smashwords to publish on B&N in light of KDP Select.  Smashwords will need all the support it can get, and I want to do my part.  Smashwords gets a percentage of sales I make at B&N.  I want Smashwords to succeed.  I want B&N, Apple, Diesel, Sony and Kobo to succeed.  And yes, I want Amazon to succeed, but I don’t want Amazon to squash their competitors.  Does that make sense?  I want the market to remain competitive because competition benefits authors and readers.  I’d hate to see the other stores go out of business.  It was hard to see Borders go out of business recently.

I’m sorry but after doing my research last night, I can’t (in good conscience) publish directly on PubIt.  I’d feel like I was betraying Smashwords who has done so much for me and other authors.  I hope that by waiting until the books are up on B&N before I publish on Amazon will make things fair for everyone. 

So Isaac’s Decision release date is now moved to Feb. 1.  I can’t get it out to Smashwords sooner than the last week of December because my editor still has it, and I have two proofreaders who are helping me ensure quality.  I don’t want to skimp on quality in order to get a book out sooner. 

The other books should publish as expected.  I will finish To Have and To Hold at the very beginning of January.  (I’m over halfway done right now.)  So I should be able to put that up on Smashwords around the first week or two of Feb.  This means, it will publish on B&N around the first week of March.  At that time, I’ll put it on Amazon.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment.

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to contemporaries romances and other genres (such as science fiction thrillers). For more information, please go to www.ruthannnordin.com or check out https://ruthannnordinauthorblog.wordpress.com.
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4 Responses to Amazon’s KDP Select (aka Lending Library) and How This is Making Me Evaluate In What Order to Publish My Books

  1. Rose Gordon says:

    How odd that we both blogged about the same thing today!

    Anyway, you lay it out much better than I did, and I support your decision and think you came up with an awesome compromise for your Nook readers.

    • I almost didn’t do a blog post on it, but then I figured if I’m staying with SW to upload books to B&N for me, I need to explain why. If I had already been going through PubIt, I’d stay with PubIt, but since it’s all been through SW, I figure it’s best to stay where I’m at.

      I hope I didn’t just upset a lot of people by choosing this way to publish my books, but I feel Amazon’s forced my hand in this matter.

  2. I agree. While Amazon produces sales it is no longer my best channel. Besides if push came to shove I would choose smashwords. Amazon I’d just a faceless corporation while I feel smashwords is more” real people” if that makes sense. I am interested to see how many of these authors jumping on this actually get any money from the pool.

    • It does make sense, and I agree. I feel that Smashwords values authors. I know Smashwords needs to make a profit, so I’ll do my part, including now buying my books from them instead of Amazon like I used to.

      I’m keeping an eye on the kindleboards to see how the authors entering Select do long-term. With any luck, the couple joining who participate on SPAL will be willing to share their experiences.

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